T&T within its rights to dispose of abandoned ships – MARAD director

MARAD’s Director of Maritime Safety Captain Stephen Thomas has stated that Trinidad and Tobago is well within its rights to dispose of any ships that pose a risk to navigation or impede commerce activity.

“Any vessel that poses a threat to navigational safety has to be removed,” he said in reference to the 17 vessels that were abandoned in T&T waters since November. Thomas said MARAD has been unable to make contact with Bejorie Limited, which owns the vessels.

MARAD officials had told Stabroek News previously that Bejorie was a locally registered company. However, there was no evidence of this at the Deeds and Commercial Registry’s office. When Thomas spoke to this newspaper last week, he said the company was Trinidadian, but the vessels flew under the Guyanese flag making them Guyanese ships.

Since November of last year MARAD has received no response from Bejorie, Thomas said. When Stabroek News enquired why MARAD’s counterpart in Trinidad had not reached out to Bejorie, since the company was Trinidadian, Thomas said he was not aware whether it had or not.

He said there was no written time frame for these issues to be resolved, but later noted that adequate time had long since expired.

Asked when MARAD would eventually deregister the vessels, which would allow Trinidad authorities to properly dispose of them, Thomas said he was not made aware that the Trinidad Maritime Services Division has asked Guyana to complete the deregistration. It is not known whether a formal request was made, but late last month T&T Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz had said that Guyana had to deregister the vessels which would allow Trinidad to sell the unsalvageable scrap to recover the costs incurred from moving the abandoned vessels.

MARAD’s lack of expediency and lack of monitoring of registered vessels have raised concerns in Guyana. MARAD officials had previously told Stabroek News that some of the 17 vessels were not given annual inspections in over three years. However, records show that the vessels were only registered in 2012.

The 17 vessels known as Rich 1, Rich 2, Rich 3, Rich 5, Rich 6, Rich 7, Fullness 1, Fullness 2, Fullness 5, Fullness 6, Young Duck 3, Atlantica Rica 5, Atlantica Rica 6, Atlantica Rica 7, Atlantica Rica C, Atlantica Rica F and Atlantica Rica P were identified by their official registration numbers but they do have other names. The size of the fleet and the names suggest that there might be others still in operation. MARAD has not been able to confirm this.

Currently Trinidad has approximately 51 abandoned vessels in the Gulf of Paria.

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